Philippians 4:4-5 (NLT)
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Raise your hand if you are always full of joy and happiness. Do you walk in a cloud of butterflies surrounded by rainbows and sunshine? Do you light up every room that you walk into and leave it with an aroma of praise and thanksgiving? Yeah…me either. In most cases, people like that make you want to vomit because it is not the reality of this world. This world is hard. It is full of struggles and hardships that the human mind cannot even comprehend. I don’t even like to read the news anymore just scan it for reference. The evil in this world has put a damper on the great light that should shine from within us. How do we become light to a world completely surrounded in darkness? Better yet, how do we keep the darkness from putting out our light? We are to always be FULL of joy in the Lord. We are to live a state of constant rejoicing. Wow, that’s probably not going to happen – unless we learn to live life in perspective.
The second sentence in these verses hold the secret to our success and the very thing that may discourage many people. We must be “considerate” in all that we do. The word “considerate” means two things – thoughtful towards other people and to think out carefully and deliberately. It matters how we live when it comes to joy and living in the realm of rejoicing that we are called to inhabit. What if I am not an overall “happy” person? What if I am a pessimist? What if I just don’t like people? Friend, on any given day we could all be describe in such a way. In fact, those who begin to master happiness and rejoicing in each moment of each day will often earn the title of “fake” because others cannot understand someone who seems unaffected by the challenges of life. We decide that they don’t have problems, troubles or struggles like us. We judge the book by its cover rather than delving inside to see that what you see is a reflection of who is in charge rather than the person carrying that Great Light. See when we allow Jesus to become our joy, peace, love and happiness rejoicing comes more easily.
2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT)
For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
It’s all about the Light of His Love living inside of us. That should take the pressure off of us that makes us think that the things we go through life are any different than that of anyone else. See we are all are faced with pressure, troubles, perplexities, despair, knocked down and sufferings. We are all in this together. Most of the time, we dwell on these things. We don’t think about the Lord until the burden is more than we can bear. Suddenly we are depressed, anxious and stressed – there is no place for joy and peace that shines from the Light in our heart when we become completely overwhelmed. The Word of God tells us to live considerately. Think about things. Contemplate them thoroughly reacting. I, for one, struggle in this area when backed in a proverbial corner or put under constant longstanding pressure. When I do not get enough sleep or downtime to recover, I will begin to view the world from my present position rather than keeping my eyes on the Lord. Knowing that He is where my hope comes form and constant Source of love, joy and peace I must reconsider the things that I have given up on and put my trust back in Him. When I pick up the burden of a task or responsibility it is an act of ownership, but when I surrender it to the Lord even the worry and anxiety about it – it becomes all His and now He can work everything out. The Lord is not going to fight with you to take over your problems. To do so would violate your freedom, but He will wait until we reconsider things and change our perspective on this life.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
If four people standing on four corners of an intersection witness a traffic accident, all four will have a different perspective on what just occurred that will form be relayed in their testimony and form their opinion on the matter. Life is exactly the same way. Everyone essentially lives the same life. You cannot evaluate happiness by what you have or do not have because its obvious among the rich and powerful that they are not content. For many this all there is to life, when they die it is game over. I can get lost in that philosophy, too. There are times when I forget I live for a greater purpose than my paycheck, career, or even caring for my family. I forget that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords lives inside of me and that I will live forever with Him. I forget that He fills my life with good things. I forget all the wonderful things that He has done for me. I forget where I came from and where I am now going thanks to being picked up, set on higher ground and established in God’s Love. I worry myself into a problem. I stress until I am easily overwhelmed. My joy is in the Lord but I wander from His Ways so I do not experience like He would allow me to if I kept my place with Him. If I am not able to rejoice, it seems to me that I must change my perspective. Here is the thing – God doesn’t change His. Going back to my scenario about the intersection, our perception of God is solely based on where we stand with Him. To get a better look, we have to move or change positions because He is not going anywhere. We must fix our eyes on what cannot be seen. This world is passing away. It is literally shaking and trembling at the close proximity of Jesus Christ and His Return. We cannot give up our pursuit of the Lord. This is where we find joy that allows us to rejoice always.
Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
There will be seasons of life that our circumstances or situations do not seem to be changing. It feels like this is life and we are just going to have to deal with it. The last few weeks have been that way for me. I have not been at my most stellar spiritually. Unable to get a grip on the details of life that were running me ragged, I had to fix my heart and mind on the Lord. I had to fix my thoughts and not worry about “fixing” everything else. I will pause for a moment and let that sink in your brain………… There are times when God is working behind the scenes and it is not evident to our very human eyes or mind. We must trust the Lord during those times that He is doing exactly what He said that He would do. So you have to know what you believe and hang on to it. The hardest part about this whole process is focusing on something that cannot be seen with our eyes, felt with our hands, heard with our ears, or involving any other keen sense that we have. It is all in the unseen realm of hope in which we live… or at least are supposed to be living. We must think about whether or not we trust His Unfailing Love. (Psalm 13:5-6) If we do, then we must live what we believe not what we see. Those who choose to accept His Love AND live in it by doing whatever it takes to live in close fellowship with the Lord is surrounded in a shield of love that protects our hearts when things aren’t going too well. (Psalm 55:11-12) The level of happiness and joy we are experiencing in this life is directly connected to our pursuit of the Lord. If we want Him enough to move closer to Him, we will continue to experience more and more joy. He fills our life with it. (Psalm 22:26) We find our real in joy in looking back to see all that the Lord has done for us. (Psalm 3:7-8) When I look back over the last few years of our life, it is not with pain, anger or sadness but I am completely amazed at what the Lord has done in us and through us during our son’s battle against cancer. He won the battle and the reward is far greater than ever imagined. Those joy stealers, peace robbers, and happiness dampers are all temporary things because everything works out for the good if we love Jesus. (Romans 8:28) He is always without fail perfecting that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) When I forget, I must remember. I must fix my thoughts to see life through the Light in my heart rather than groping and feeling my way through the darkness of this world.
Psalm 33:20-22 (NLT)
We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.
I have had the opportunity to worship and rejoice in the Lord through many unique circumstances in my life. When I am on the verge of disappointment, discouragement, despair or depression, I can sense the Lord’s Spirit inside of me calling me to look within to the Light that shines inside my heart. It is that great light that has held me together through things that I never imagined I would face let alone survive. Even in the midst of the battle, when I finally gained the right perspective – I could always rejoice. There are some days that I can keep my thoughts fixed on the Lord. There are other days that I blow it completely. But thanks be to Jesus that His Mercy are new each morning. It is here that I decide to rejoice in the hope that I have found in Him. He is my helper for this day and every other one that follows but we will just keep our minds on getting through this one with my joy intact. My heart rejoices in Him for He is the only constant and consistent love that I have. I can trust Him. His Unfailing Love surrounds me to buffer any fall, pick me up when I do, dust me off, cover me in His Blood and set me on my way again. I have nothing to lose in this day but everything to gain. I will rejoice in the Lord! How about you?
Romans 5:10-11 (NLT)
For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.